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The Universe — or Nothing

The Universe — or Nothing
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Title: The Universe — or Nothing
Release Date: 2006-04-25
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Universe — or Nothing, by Meyer Moldeven

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

** This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg eBook, Details Below **** Please follow the copyright guidelines in this file. **

Title: The Universe — or Nothing

Author: Meyer Moldeven

Release Date: April 25, 2006 [eBook #18257]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)

***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE UNIVERSE — OR NOTHING***

Copyright 1984 Meyer Moldeven

THE UNIVERSE — or nothing

by Meyer Moldeven

Copyright 1984 Meyer Moldeven [email protected] This work is under a Creative Commons License.

Table Of Contents

 THE UNIVERSE — or nothing
 Table Of Contents
 About Meyer Moldeven
 Also by Meyer Moldeven
 The Preface
 The Prologue
 Chapter ONE
 Chapter TWO
 Chapter THREE
 Chapter FOUR
 Chapter FIVE
 Chapter SIX
 Chapter SEVEN
 Chapter EIGHT
 Chapter NINE
 Chapter TEN
 Chapter ELEVEN
 Chapter TWELVE
 Chapter THIRTEEN
 Chapter FOURTEEN
 Chapter FIFTEEN
 Chapter SIXTEEN
 Chapter SEVENTEEN
 Chapter EIGHTEEN
 Chapter NINETEEN
 Chapter TWENTY
 Chapter TWENTY-ONE
 Chapter TWENTY-TWO
 Chapter TWENTY-THREE
 Chapter TWENTY-FOUR
 Chapter TWENTY-FIVE
 Chapter TWENTY-SIX
 Chapter TWENTY-SEVEN
 Chapter TWENTY-EIGHT
 Chapter TWENTY-NINE
 Chapter THIRTY
 Chapter THIRTY-ONE
 Chapter THIRTY-TWO
 Chapter THIRTY-THREE
 Chapter THIRTY-FOUR
 Chapter THIRTY-FIVE
 Chapter THIRTY-SIX
 Chapter THIRTY-SEVEN
 Chapter THIRTY-EIGHT
 Chapter THIRTY-NINE
 Chapter FORTY
 Chapter FORTY-ONE
 Chapter FORTY-TWO
 Chapter FORTY-THREE
 Chapter FORTY-FOUR
 Chapter FORTY-FIVE
 Chapter FORTY-SIX
 Epilogue
 Afterwords
 Appendix
 The References
 Words With(Out) Diacritics
 Creative Commons License
 about "zen markup language"

About Meyer Moldeven

Meyer (Mike) Moldeven was a civilian logisticstechnician with the United States Air Forcefrom 1941 until 1974. He was an aircraftemergency survival equipment specialistin the Pacific Area during World War II and atechnical writer for several years afterwards.During the Cold War he transferred to a USAFbase in North Africa where he developed logisticsplans for USAF-NATO emergency maintenanceof disabled aircraft that would land along theNorth African coast after returning from missionsin any future war with the USSR. During the U.S.post-Sputnik initiatives to create a national spaceprogram, he critiqued aerospace industries' logisticsconcepts on future space systems organization,infrastructure and support. Among the studieshe critiqued was 'Space Logistics, Operations,Maintenance and Rescue' (Project SLOMAR).During the Viet Nam War, he was the seniorcivilian in the Inspector General's Office atMcClellan Air Force Base, a major logisticsinstallation near Sacramento, California. Aspart of his 'added' duties during 'Viet Nam' Mikewas a hotline volunteer in a suicide preventioncenter and consequently, an advocate forprofessionally-staffed 'suicide prevention'capabilities throughout the entire Departmentof Defense. He compiled documentation,published, and widely distributed copies ofhis book, "Military-Civilian Teamwork inSuicide Prevention" (1971, 1985 and 1994.)Mike's updated essay on suicide preventionin the U.S. Armed Forces has been includedin his collection of memoirs, "Hot War/Cold War— Back-of-the-Lines Logistics", which is at:http://hometown.aol.com/yarnspinner7191/myhomepage/military.html

Also by Meyer Moldeven

                 Military-Civilian Teamwork in Suicide Prevention
                 Write Stories to Me, Grandpa!
                 A Grandpa's Notebook

The Preface

"It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow." — Dr. Robert H. Goddard

"There is no way back into the past; the choice, as H. G. Wells once said, is the universe — or nothing. Though men and civilizations may yearn for rest, for the dream of the lotus-eaters, that is a desire that merges imperceptibly into death. The challenge of the great spaces between the worlds is a stupendous one; but if we fail to meet it, the story of our race will be drawing to its close." — Arthur C. Clarke

The Prologue

The Present

A conclusion in the Report to the Club of Rome:The Limits to Growth states: "…within a time spanof less than 100 years with no major change inthe physical, economic, or social relationships thathave traditionally governed world development,society will run out of the nonrenewable resourceson which the industrial base depends. When theresources have been depleted, a precipitouscollapse of the economic system will result,manifested in massive unemployment, decreasedfood production, and a decline in population as thedeath rate soars. There is no smooth transition,no gradual slowing down of activity; rather, theeconomic system consumes successively largeramounts of the depletable resources until theyare gone. The characteristic behavior of thesystem is overshoot and collapse."

Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation onEconomic Trends and the Greenhouse CrisisFoundation, in Biosphere Politics: A NewConsciousness for a New Century (Crown Publishers,New York 1991) reports how industrialized anddeveloped nations exploit the sea beds of the worldfor their rich deposits of industrial minerals andmetals. He notes that the struggle between richand poor nations and multinational corporations overminerals in the vast oceanic seabed is likely to beheated in the years to come, especially as reservesof land-based minerals approach exhaustion.

News media reported in October 2000 that thePeople's Republic of China announced plans toexplore Earth's moon for useful substances. OnOctober 15, 2003 the PRC launched into Earthorbit its first manned rocket.

In a speech on January 14, 2004 the President ofthe United States of America unveiled a new visionfor space exploration. He called on the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to"…gain a new foothold on the moon and to preparefor new journeys to worlds beyond our own."

"We do not know where this journey will end," saidthe President, "yet we know this: Human beings areheaded into the cosmos." White House Press Release,January 14, 2004.

##

The Future

The Interstellar Mining and Teleport System

The System consists of two terminals, each ofwhich includes an integral, fully robotized capabilityto conduct internal command-and-control,self-maintenance and repair, and logistical,teleportation, communications and other functionsand operations essential to its unique mission. Theterminal positioned in orbit above Alpha Centauri isdesignated the Extractor and the terminal positionedalong the Solar System's rim is designated theCollector.

The Extractor selects and draws pre-designatedelements, minerals and other usable substancesfrom the Alpha Centauri star system, and collects,accumulates, converts and channels the matterinto its spunnel transmission subsystem for directinterstellar transfer to the Collector.

The Collector receives the product, convertsit into its original form, identifies, classifies,quantifies and records constituents and mass;refines and ejects the raw product for transportto and storage along the solar rim or at a locationthat Authority determines to be more suitable.

The Extractor and Collector terminals areconstructed four million kilometers beyond PlanetPluto. During the System's research, development,test, evaluation, engineering, construction, launchand voyage phases, the terminals are spunnel-linkedand tested both as separate machines with theirsupport systems, and as the integrated masterscheme.

During construction the System is linked to PlanetPluto, employing mass attractors, orbital dynamicscontrols and stabilizers, and other means, asappropriate.

The System Authority possesses and Commands a
Self-Defense Force under Powers delegated by the
President of the United Inner Planetary System
(UIPS).

At launch, disengage the Extractor fleet from theSolar System's gravitational and other constraintsemploying Planet Pluto's outbound orbital momentumplus augmentation thrusters in a manner that theExtractor fleet retains its integrity in transit todestination, and on station in perpetuity.

Position the Extractor in orbit above AlphaCentauri at a location commensurate with dataprovided previously by drone scouts. Authority,at all times, maintains surveillance and exercisescontrol over operations and support systems, andanalyses of the Extractor's functions, structuresand equipment.

The Collector is positioned along the solar rim, orelsewhere, as determined by Authority. The Collectoris fixed to the Extractor's product launch nodes,functions and operations, and to the Extractor'sorbital dynamics at destination.

The Extractor, operating at destination, analyzes,selects, and draws substance from proximateasteroids, comets, satellites, planetoids, spacedebris, swarms, star surfaces, subsurface and otheraccessible bodies and strata, reduces the substanceto teleportable constituents (the product), loadsthe product into launch hoppers and dispatchesit to the Collector.

Critical to the program's success is timing theExtractor's launch. Piggy-backed to Planet Plutoduring construction, the Extractor uses theplanet's orbital momentum for launch. The launchwindow is precise and short-lived along PlanetPluto's outbound orbit; there is only one launchopportunity in centuries for the Extractor.

Disengaged from Pluto, the Extractor fleetaccelerates along its course to optimum velocitythrough integrated thrust of augmented thrustersor other more advanced propulsion systems thatare or become available in time to accomplish theObjective.

##

The Terminals and their command and control,supporting research and development schemesand projects, facilities, spunnel teleport and otherlogistics and communications networks, surface andspace stations and outposts is formally designatedThe Interstellar Mining and Transport System.Authority acknowledges that the mission, launch andassets acquisition processes intrigued the whimsicalfancy of the solar community during pre-programdefinition studies and the System was nicknamed"Slingshot".

THE UNIVERSE — or nothing

Chapter ONE

The recon-patroller's leg and torso-pads fine-tunedtheir tensions as Lieutenant Pete O'Hare shiftedposition. His eyes ranged the banks of flickeringlights around him. An aberrant indicator caught hiseye and he mind-stroked a sensor control. Satisfied,he moved on; the greens held firm.

Planet Pluto arced into view from starboard, halfa million kay distant. The mottled moonlet, Charon,orbited the mother planet tightly. Only tanktownColdfield's dome and its hard unblinking lightsbroke Pluto's drab crust. A dozen or so ruttedtrails formed a network that connected encapsulatedoutposts to each other and to Pluto's solitary city.

The recon-patroller's omni-directional screendisplayed the huge cylinder that floated in spacebehind him, its gravity-enhanced rotation barelyperceptible to O'Hare's vision. Five-meter highorange letters glowed brightly along its bluntbow and stern, and on each quarter sector of itsexposed surface, proclaiming the huge cylinderas the UIPS SLINGSHOT LOGISTICS DEPOT.

Space transports, no two alike, rode theirmagnetic-beam's moorings along the Depot's flanks.Space tugs and barges labored in all directions,taxis charged about, and space-cranes swayed abovedozens of platforms that protruded from the Depot'shull.

Leviathans off-loaded to barges as other ships in amultitude of shapes and sizes grappled with cargofrom flex-conveyers that snaked from the Depot'sgaping portals. Slender, multi-armed space cranesraised and lowered crates, bundles and modules, andarranged, aligned, connected and disconnected gearand cargo in all directions.

Aggregations of netted or tethered girders,platforms, multi-meter-wide conduits in hundredsof shapes and lengths, and modules linked bystabilizer-beams crossed open spaces, pulled orpushed by robot tugs controlled from the station'scargo control centers. In trains or clusters,machines traversed the open stretches betweenthe Depot's portals and nearby transports in theirfinal step toward a long journey.

The brightly checkered Depot slipped from O'Hare'sscreen. A deployment station to O'Hare and hundredsof his colleagues, and to more than four centuriesof his predecessors, the Depot was as much hometo him as his permanent station afloat in spacebetween Earth and Luna.

"Time," O'Hare silently flashed the code thatopened his spunnel channel to Keeper. "This is aSlingshot Tac Ops from Red Fox to Keeper. I am hotto trot on Point Charlie off Fandango Force Field.All coordinates green for Scout Operation XrayDelta slash Four. Time for go is 2112 slash 14Solar. Keyed to transmit status on Spunnel Channel9212, scramble 38. Confirm. Over."

The response was equally silent, registereddirectly in his consciousness. The message'sclarity was unaffected by passage throughhundreds of spunnel boosters that linked O'Hareto a shielded bunker beneath Luna's surface.

"Keeper to Red Fox. Your orders to scout PlanetPluto Zone confirmed. You are cleared to startat 2112 slash 14 Solar. Spunnel 9212 slash 38 isopen for your transmissions. You are spunnel-psymonitored by Spacetrack Ceres. Out."

O'Hare tensed, psy-blinked his view screen down tothe instruments vital to his immediate mission, andmind-keyed several controls. The fifteen-meters-longvessel, with a barely two-meter beam, swoopedlow and snapped into its run barely fifteen metersacross Pluto's desolate plains.

The view screen readouts showed subsurfacegalleries, several outlined in irregular outlinesbut empty, others reflected high-mass warshipconfigurations. He focused to adjust hisinstruments for deeper penetration.

Quite suddenly, O'Hare's vision blurred. His headand body swelled. In an instant, his brains, bonesand guts burst and splattered the cockpit as hisship exploded.

##

Lieutenant Jake Ramirez smoothly accepted thetarget blip that registered on his mind-screen. Itinstantly displayed the target's dimensions, mass,spin, velocity and coordinates. As the data strungout Jake whistled, soft and low. He tapped thechannel traffic override to the Depot's spunnelbooster.

"Spunnel Flash to Keeper. Switch to Scramble 2."Jake flipped the key and, without pause, mind-casthis alert.

"Blue Fox to Keeper on Scramble 2. Message keyedat 2115 slash 14 Solar. Request Spacetrack Ceresverify ship's position and readings. Field is aboutone-fourth by three-fourths kay, depth

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